First stages of growth.
Plus some images taken up to 18 months later.
The Date #1.
Date sprouts, a few weeks old. (Tiny lemon shoots, back left.)
8th May 2016. Like Toad of Toad Hall, I suffer from crazes. Some become dormant, only to recur later. However, ‘Early Radio’ has always been around, as have ‘old 78 rpm discs’. Model aeroplanes is a recent one – though even that had a precursor many decades ago. But since Christmas 2015, the latest craze is trying to grow plants from seeds of exotic fruit. It began harmlessly enough; among my Xmas stocking fillers was a box of dates. Hadn’t had dates for years! So almost inevitably came the question: ‘will date stones germinate and grow?’ So we looked YouTube, and of course they will. There are scores, perhaps hundreds, of accounts and videos of date stones sprouting and how to get them to germinate.
You can have lots of fun looking up the videos yourself. Still, the basics for dates are very simple, so we’ll give them here, as the technique is common to many other plants.
Soak the stones in water for about a week, changing the water every day or so. Strip off any date flesh adhering to the stones during this time; it may start to decay & pollute the water. If necessary, clean the stone with kitchen paper.
After a week or so, you’ll notice that the stones are larger. They have begun to absorb water as a preliminary stage of germination.
Put your stones on a folded piece of wet kitchen paper,then insert the paper, flat, into a plastic bag with a zip seal, close it, and put the bag in a warm place. I use the airing cupboard, which is always around 27 – 32°C.
The stones look uncannily like moth pupae laid out for emergence!
Truly, Dame Nature wasteth not her archetypes…
If you can manage it, have the apertures all facing upwards to make inspection easier, though that isn’t crucial. Some people enclose the stones in a sandwich of damp tissue, but this means you have to open the bag & unfold the tissue to examine the stones. A small plastic container would do as well, as long as it’s hermetically sealed. But the bag is best IMHO; you don’t have to open it for inspection. Check each day to make sure the seal on the bag is secure – as long as the inside is coated with condensation, it’s still OK. In around a week, the root will emerge from the hole. I planted my sprouted date stones when the roots were say 1″ (2.5cm) long; but one YT poster remarked that they had forgotten about one batch. When they remembered it, the roots had grown several inches long, and a shoot had appeared too. When planted, these ‘neglected’ seedlings grew more strongly and quickly!
The 8 stones were placed in the airing cupboard on Sunday 8th May; when checked today, Wednesday 11th May, three had already begun to germinate – is this a record????
The Date #3.
A fortnight later, the roots were very long. No sign of shoots; but as we already have several date plants, we’ll probably just put these all together in a pot in the greenhouse & see what happens.See image at top of page for date seedlings after a few weeks, also tiny lemon shoots.
The Lemon #1.
Seedlings from lemon pips.
As regards lemons, just planting the pips usually doesn’t work. The actual seed is contained within a rather irregular husk. It is necessary to carefully peel off the husk with a fingernail, starting at the pointed end. The pips are of course very slippery, so it’s a fiddly job. Try to peel the husk from top to bottom of the pip; if you try to ‘unwrap’ it round the girth of the seed, it may break in half. The actual seed is much more regular in shape than the pip. To germinate the seeds, the procedure is exactly the same as for dates, except that you don’t have to soak the seed in water. The pips from a freshly used lemon, when stripped, can go straight onto moist kitchen paper, then into the plastic bag. My first lot of 4 seeds germinated in only 4 or 5 days! Unfortunately, the seal on the bag then broke somehow, and the tiny roots shrivelled up. Happily, we still had the other half of the lemon, so after a few pancakes 8^) the second batch turned out OK, as you can see above. They were put in small pots with seed compost, on an indoor windowsill, and within a few days, their shoots came up. After about a week, the growth seemed to slow down. We thought this might be because this plantlet is an incipient tree, and as trees are usually big, if a root has discovered the pot is shallow, the plant might be less keen on growing. So we immediately potted them on, and they carried on growing, as above. The one on the right is in fact poly-embryonic…
Two seedlings for the price of one!
Yes; we had already seen YT videos which informed us that citrus plants are frequently poly-embryonic, i.e. two (or even more) seeds in one pip. I tried Googling this, but I have to tell you that, alas, I have always found Genetics incredibly boring, much the same as Geology; and can never get my head around even the simplest elements of either. I’m very sorry, but there it is. Suffice it to say, that one of the above two plants is a clone of the parent tree – and the other one isn’t. Sometimes, as here, they both look physically pretty well the same. Sometimes, one is bigger than the other; but even then, there is apparently no hard and fast rule as to which is the clone, and which isn’t.
The Lemon #2.
1st November 2017. After 18 months, the lemon pip is definitely a small tree! We kept it indoors last winter – it still grew somewhat. It went into the greenhouse in spring. We need to see whether it can over-winter in the greenhouse.
As you see, it’s still actually two trees…
The Mango #1.
It was rather nice to buy, and eat, mangos for the first time! We had not been familiar with them before. The first one was very large and expensive; yellow and red of hue, and delicious. However, the seed in that one came to naught. But intrepid YouTubers had showed that it was usually pretty easy to grow a mango seed. So we bought a pack of two smaller, mostly green mangos, and ate them. No: I tell a lie; I ate one, and gave the other to my daughter. But anyway, here is another instance of the fact that if you take the single very big seed out of a mango & just plant it, it won’t germinate. I haven’t bothered to look this up, but it seems obvious that some seeds are contained within a husk for very definite reasons. First, I suppose, so that the seed will not germinate inside the fruit itself; second and more importantly, since fruits – I would think, wouldn’t you? – have evolved so that they will be eaten by animals & birds, and so be distributed to pastures new in the excreta of those birds and animals. Accordingly, Dame Nature has ordained that the seed itself will remain unaffected by its passage through the alimentary tract of whatever has eaten it. However, its protective husk will be consumed, so that the seed will be ready for germination, when it falls to the ground. I have no idea what creatures ate/eat mangos; but they must have pretty powerful digestive systems, because the husk of a mango seed is a pretty formidable thing to break open, even using a knife or a screwdriver. Nevertheless, inside the husk will be found the actual seed. It resembles a large broad bean more than anything else, and, if treated in the same way as dates & lemons &c., and put into a sealed bag on damp tissue and incubated for some time, a root will emerge from one end of the seed. Then, you may plant it on its side, in seed compost in a relatively large pot. The shoot appeared above the compost in about 4 or 5 days, and since then has grown quite quickly.
The Mango #2.
It seems to be doing quite well in the greenhouse.
The Mango #3.
Here are the Mango (left) and the Avocado (see below) after 18 months. We haven’t got room for them in house; they were in the greenhouse in the spring, but they had to go outdoors when the tomato plants got large – it’s a very small greenhouse. But they can go back in & see if they can overwinter there.
The Avocado #1.
We did try growing an avocado stone some years ago, with no results. It just sat there, propped up in its jam-jar with three cocktail sticks in the normal way, and nothing whatever happened over a period of weeks. But that was in the days before YouTube – fancy that – no YouTube! How on earth did we ever manage? Anyhow, it is essential to remove the thin brown skin of the stone – which you can gently scrape off with a fingernail. This insubstantial skin seems not to warrant the term ‘husk’; but for all I know, it probably serves the same purpose. Now as you remove this skin, you will find a seam running vertically around the seed. Make sure you don’t split the seed in half. The bottom of the seed is rounded; the top is round, but smaller. Then, do the thing with the three cocktail sticks. They only need to go in say a centimetre, if that. Then prop it up in its jar & fill with water until the lower half of the seed is submerged. Some people put them on a window sill, but I put mine in the airing cupboard because it’s warm – around 30°C. Change the water every day or two. Nothing happened at first. But after about 10 days, the seed began to split along the vertical seam, and lo: a root appeared. It grew fairly slowly. I should think it was a good couple of weeks, maybe three, before the side-roots developed. By then the seed was split in half, and finally the shoot at the top emerged. It was then put into the greenhouse, though the summer hasn’t really started yet. For some unknown reason not all avocado seeds will germinate – later I was given 2 or 3 more stones, but only one actually grew.
The Avocado #2.
Leaves are appearing on the shoot. It’s in the greenhouse, and the weather is not very summery yet – few days have attained 20°C so far. I think it might as well go into a pot now.
The Avocado #3.
Here is the Avocado after several months, an attractve plant, I think.
See above for the mango & Avocado after about 18 months.
The Apricot #1.
My daughter kindly bought me some apricots. I think there were 8 in the pack, and I ate four in the first day or so, and broke the stones with a small hammer. By now, we know that there isn’t a cat in Hell’s chance of growing a hard stone like this unless you get the actual seed out. Yet again, we were amazed at the capability of the digestive systems of certain creatures. To digest the husk or shell of an apricot stone must take some very powerful juices. We had to bang away with our hammer for some time to crack them. The resulting seeds had a striped coating, some of which partially broke away. Into the bag on damp tissue, & into the airing cupboard. 10 days later nothing had happened. When we took the seeds out of the bag, some more of their coatings came away. It was very thin, but in case it constituted a husk – which, we have learned, inhibits germination – we removed it all & replaced the now whitish seeds in the bag. Behold! Within two days, all four seeds germinated, and grew to the size above in only three or four days more. They are now ready for potting.
The Apricot #2.
November 1st, 2017. The 4 sprouted apricot seeds were put in pots, but for some reason only one grew on. When it was about 18″ (45cm) tall, it was a very elegant and attractive plant. But it had to go outside later in 2016 as there was no longer any room in the house. Later I thought it had died, as all the leaves fell off. However, they appeared again this spring, presenting to us the blinding revelation that lemon trees are evergreen, and apricot trees are deciduous! 8^) I still find it an attractive plant though.
The Orange #1.
November 2017. Like all our crazes, planting fruit seeds abated in favour of something else. HOWEVER – we eat a lot of oranges, and had been disappointed that there didn’t seem to be any pips in them. Then, a few months ago, there came an orange with 10 or 12 pips! Several were given the usual treatment, but only a couple sprouted – one of them you see above. It was also poly-embryonic, having two plants in the one seed.